Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Synaptic Plasticity Activity-dependent modulation of glutamatergic synapses has been suggested to play important roles in learning and memory in adult brains, and the formation of synaptic connections in developmental brains. This modulation is at least partially mediated through the activation of "silent synapses," synapses that contain NMDA receptors but not AMPA receptors. Such synapses are silent at a normal resting potential due to voltage-dependent magnesium blockade of NMDA receptors. Our laboratory mainly uses electrophysiological, morphological and molecular biological techniques to investigate molecular and cellular mechanisms of activity-dependent synaptic plasticity. Particularly, we are interested in the cellular mechanisms responsible for the activation of silent synapses. It has been recently reported that silent synapses can be rapidly awakened through a rapid acquisition of AMPA receptors. Our goal is to understand the intracellular signaling pathways for the rapid synaptic targeting of AMPA receptors.
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